CBI questions Lalu for over 7 hours in IRCTC hotels case

New Delhi, Oct 5 : The CBI questioned RJD chief Lalu Prasad for over seven hours on Thursday in connection with its ongoing probe into alleged irregularities in the 2006 IRCTC hotels maintenance contract case.

Lalu Prasad, a former Railway Minister, appeared before the agency’s investigators for questioning in the case at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) headquarters on Lodi Road here around 11.30 a.m.

The CBI has also summoned his son Tejashwi Yadav, a former Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, in the case. Tejaswi may join the probe on Friday.

“Lalu Prasad was questioned for over seven hours. Our main focus was on allegations against him on which basis the CBI had registered the FIR in the matter,” CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS.

Informed sources said Lalu Prasad faced over 100 questions related to the case.

Asked if the former Bihar Chief Minister will again be summoned for another round of questioning, Dayal said: “We will decide it later.”

The senior Rashtriya Janata Dal leader was accompanied by his daughter and RJD’s Rajya Sabha MP Misa Bharti, who is also under investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case involving shell companies.

On September 26, the CBI issued fresh summons — the third in a month — to the RJD chief and his son Tejashwi Yadav in the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation contract case.

The CBI move came after Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi Yadav skipped two earlier summons.

The CBI on July 5 filed a corruption case against Lalu Prasad, his wife Rabri Devi and son Tejashwi Yadav for alleged irregularities in the allotment of contracts for IRCTC hotels in Ranchi and Puri in 2006 to a private firm when the RJD chief was the Railways Minister.

The contracts were given to Sujata Hotels, a company owned by Vijay and Vinay Kochhar — both named in the CBI FIR as accused — in lieu of bribe in the form of a three-acre commercial plot at a prime location in Bihar’s Patna district, the CBI said.

A preliminary CBI inquiry allegedly found that the said land was sold by the Kochhars to Delight Marketing Company and payment was arranged through Ahluwalia Contractors and its promoter Bikramjeet Singh Ahluwalia, another accused person.

The ED has since questioned Ahluwalia.

Delight Marketing, which bought the property from the Kochhars, was later taken over by Rabri Devi and Tejashwi, alleges the CBI.

Sarla Gupta, wife of RJD chief’s close associate Prem Chand Gupta and a director of Delight Marketing, is a co-accused in the case, apart from then IRCTC Managing Director P.K. Goel.

The ED had on July 27 registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act following the CBI FIR and was probing Lalu Prasad and others for alleged transfer of money through shell companies.

The ED has summoned Rabri Devi to appear before it next week.

/IANS

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